Category Archives: musings
“Why did you leave?”
…Not, “Where did you go?”
The destination hardly mattered. It was only the reason for leaving that counted.*
Driven only by fear do men go for refuge to many places – to hills, woods, groves, trees, and shrines. Desire for refuge have some seek escape from suffering through addictive behaviors, magical thinking, relationships. By resorting to such a refuge one is not released from all suffering.
One is one’s own refuge, who else could be the refuge? …be a refuge to themselves, and never to seek refuge in or help from anybody else…man has the power to liberate himself from all bondage through his own personal efforts and intelligence.**
Refuge is within a friendship with the universe, one’s little sangha. As I seek a spiritual community that a speaks in unison with the refuge within myself, where is an easing of life’s suffering?
- Internal Refuge
- being awake
- experiential understanding
- making use of experience
- Experiential refuge
- unceasing experience
*How to Read the Air
**What the Buddha Taught
The sixteenth century was the age of autobiography and the self-portrait, of the voice of Montaigne, and the self-awareness reflections of Durer… It is also the period during which mirrors became a more common part of domestic life. This self-awareness does not (yet) equate with the objectification of the self, but with the achievement, rather, of ‘necessary distance’, which enhances an understanding of the self as part of a shared world of other, similar, beings.
everyone feels it force, but some are turned upside down by it. It makes such an intense impression on me that I prefer to avoid it altogether rather than try to resist it…the very sight of someone else’s pain causes me real pain, and my body often takes on the sensations of the person I am with. Another’s perpetual cough tickles my lungs and throat. I’m more reluctant to visit those I love and am bound to care for, when they’re sick, than those I care less about, and mean less to me. I adopt their disease that troubles me, and make it my own. *
Every healing intervention is motivated by suffering and hope – be it of the individual, family, friends, or a community agency. The value within suffering is that it contains a message of incongruence that awakens the motivation to heal. William James wrote that life is the manifestation of behaviors that attempt to avoid, overcome, or remove that which is seen to block us from that which we desire.
The discontent that is presented during the initial meeting with a therapist very often times is colored by, and hidden under, numerous layers of attempts to ease pain. Therefore, what occurs within the isolation of suffering is a compounding of the original problem. Overcoming the defenses that shield one from acknowledging suffering requires a presence similar to how a person standing beside a pure, limpid, serene pool of water contemplates the reflected surface images, observes the life within the water’s current, and notes the sediment’s composition; to do otherwise only serves to fortify protective shields such as rationalization, minimizing, justification, or defiance.
With this in mind, it was my purpose as a clinician to engage with a client so that together we identified the origins and entanglements of the presenting concern, awaken the motivation to ease discontent, and then identify therapeutic goals that are congruent with the client’s values, guiding principles, and moral guidelines. It is postulated; therefore, that the effective resolution of presenting concerns within a therapeutic environment requires a relationship that intentionally begins with the comprehension and acceptance of one’s discontent “as it is.”
“As it is” initiates a settling of internal criticism and disturbing feelings similar to the descent of sediment within a pot of muddy water. Consequently, to simply listen to a feeling, belief, or behavior “as it arises and as it is” is believed to be an effective way to begin a process of unraveling entanglements of thoughts, emotions, and actions. It silences troublesome intrusions and invites accurate empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard into the environment. Thus both the client and therapist are invited to emerge from their various shadows of anxiety, anger, grief, cravings, and confusion into a space of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a non-judgmental and non-distracted presence that remains in the moment, moment by moment. This congruent presence is a prerequisite for the “letting in” and “being touched by the other” that is the essence of therapeutic empathy. What is not often acknowledged is the courage it takes for both client and clinician to allow their defenses to fade in order for empathy to awaken as “being touched” has the potential to awaken each person’s vulnerabilities, loneliness, sadness, anxieties, shame, regret, anger, etc. Yet, when the barriers come down and the elements of mindfulness, empathy, and courage unite, a therapeutic environment is filled with creative, active, sensitive, and compassionate exchanges.
The Master and his Emissary
You cannot talk to a power politician
As if he were a wise man.
If he seeks to understand you,
If he looks inside himself
To find the truth you have told him,
He cannot find it there.
Not finding, he doubts.
When a man doubts,
He will kill.
Like the left-hand and right-hand worlds see by Alice on either side of the looking glass,
[the right and left hemispheres of the divided brain]
has its own version of reality, in which things superficially look the same but are different.*
The Master and his Emissary
the Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
If the only way to maintain the self is to lose others,
then the ordinary child will give up self.
~ Abraham Maslow
If one discerns that an object is acting as a preventative to obtaining something desired – possession, fame, validation, intoxication, power, inclusion, sensual gratification – then anger and hatred will be directed toward the blocking agent. Even if the blocking agent is self, the desirous ego will view self as an object and thus be free to abuse self, debase self, make self suffer and derived sadistic satisfaction from the suffering directed upon the self.
It is difficult to comprehend how the energies invested in defining, validating, protecting, and maintaining the self would shift with a rage against one’s own integrity and one’s own life. Everyone at some time or other has experienced negative feelings that were so intense that the mind sought to eradicate that which was identified as accountable for the suffering without regard to what should take its place. In this state of mind there can unquestionably be genuine thoughts, and genuine acts, of suicide, spiritual and social, as well as bodily. Anything, anything, at such times so as to escape the pain and to not be, “God, make me into a stone.” But such conditions of suicidal frenzy are pathological in their nature and run counter to everything that is regular in the life of the Self in man.
When we distance from loved ones through emotional or physical distance or with the statement, “you are now dead to me”, this is a semi-intentional annihilation of self. It tells us of the degree of emotional fusion within families and a cutting away of the material self. To see oneself through lens of criticism, guilt, and negation are mini-acts of eradication of self. To withdraw and alienate oneself from society is an act seeking a form of non-being.*
A Meditative Journey with Saldage
Homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be
B Catherine Koeford
Share a picture of CURVES and explain why you chose that picture!
than the sky could hold?
Today’s rain. ~Oka Kosetsu*
All things arise from Tao.
They are nourished by Virtue.
They are formed from matter.
They are shaped by environment.
Thus the ten thousand things all respect Tao and honor Virtue.
Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue are not demanded.
But they are in the nature of things.
Therefore all things arise from Tao.
By Virtue they are nourished,
Developed, cared for,
Grown, and protected.
Creating without claiming,
Doing without taking credit,
Guiding without interfering,
This is Primal Virtue.
Haiku Before Haiku
Steven D. Carter
Tao Te Ching
Trans: Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English